Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel – Themis Files #3

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

FINALLY! THE LAST BOOK IS HERE!

The Themis Files is one of my top science fiction series of all time! I really just love the writing style and the way the story takes so many different twists and turns! I was super stoked when the publishers let me know that the third book was ready to review, and I read this in March because I just couldn’t wait until May! Here is what I thought:

35820656Summary (Goodreads): In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.


Review: This novel left me feeling bittersweet for all the right reasons.

The story takes place 9 years after the previous book, but there is the expectation that the reader still remembers what happened from before. So if you haven’t read the previous books or you don’t remember what happened, READ THEM FIRST!

This story is once again told in a series of case files and interviews. This is a format that some may not like but I actually love it. It is just such a unique way to tell the story and it is surprising how it conveys a lot of emotion and allows the reader to connect and understand the characters. The writing style has always been one of my favourite things with this series and it continues to be so in this book, as well.

The plot for this story is slower than in the first book, but it is more than made up for by the depth of the story and all of the different connections that are made. There is so much that goes on in the story that there really is no need for a ton of action. I love the idea of the aliens, how the story mixes in politics and philosophy with science fiction, and the way the characters have grown and developed.

The only thing I didn’t like about the story was the introduction of a new character: Katherine. Now, the author has created some pretty zany characters who seem to lack depth at face value but are a lot more calculating or deep underneath. However, Katherine’s character was just too wacky for me and there wasn’t enough time in this one novel to give her any depth.

But overall, I loved this novel. I don’t want to give too much away because anything I say will be a spoiler. But this is a series worth reading. If you like science fiction and are looking for an interesting spin on a classic alien/robot story, this is one you don’t want to miss out on! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

 

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Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone – The Hatching #3

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I have loved this series since I received my first ARC for it. I’ve never been scared of spiders, but The Hatching had me feeling differently. I loved both The Hatching and Skitter, the 2nd book in the series, so I was super excited to know how it would all conclude. Here is my review:

35297544Summary (Goodreads): The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can—more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder—and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?


Review: For a novel that’s supposed to be about killer crazy spiders, there weren’t too many spider scenes.

I was hoping that this book would have crazy spider action and scare the bejeezus out of me. But I don’t think there was a spider scene until the halfway point of the book. Most of the story was just a lot of characters talking and politics. I think that the other novels in this series spoiled me for the last one; they were such high-impact, adrenaline-fueled stories that this one seemed like a bit of a let-down.

One of the things I had really loved about this series were the different perspectives that were included. I loved that there were some civilians and people from various areas of the world, all reeling from this spider issue. I was eager to see how these perspectives would converge in the end. However, after reading this final book, I question the necessity for all of those viewpoints and characters. So many of them just sputtered out in this book that it felt like it was all just a moot point. After having read about all of these different characters from the other 2 books in this series, I was quite disappointed with how their stories ended in this final book. Looking back, it might have been better for the author to only have focused on a few of the core story lines and left the unnecessary ones out, since it really didn’t add anything.

The writing was still great, which made this novel move along at a fast pace. Even though not a lot was happening in terms of action, all of the plot holes were filled and I appreciated that the author caught the readers up on things from the previous novels that may have been forgotten.

I know it sounds like I didn’t love this novel. And you’re right, I didn’t love it. But it was still quite good. I liked the writing, and the way the story ended. I was super invested in this series, which is probably why I enjoyed this last book despite it not being as action-packed as I had hoped. If you like creepy stories, I would definitely recommend checking this series out; it is honestly so good and it’s worth reading! I’m giving this book a 3/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Science fiction is a genre that I really like and try to read often. When I heard the premise for this one, I thought it was absolutely perfect for me! Thanks to NetGalley, and Penguin Random House’s First to Read program for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.


Summary (Goodreads): In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis’ last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash; are forced to flee everything they’ve ever known. As they wander toward the scalded heart of the city, they face fire, conspiracy, mayhem, unholy drugs, dragon-worshippers, and the monsters lurking inside themselves.


Review: I wanted to love this book so much. But I could barely make myself get through it.

This novel was well-written…. but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about it. Oh, and I really liked the cover.

I think what bothered me about this novel was the way its characters acted. I know that you don’t always like to love the characters; in fact, sometimes, having characters that are despicable can be great. But I couldn’t handle the vile acts. I’m not someone who is very sensitive and I can handle sensitive content but this time, I just couldn’t deal with the way the author talked about women and people’s bodies and rape. I understand that it was for satirical reasons but … just, no.

Maybe this is a novel I can come back to at another time. But for now, I’m putting it away and I’m sticking to my rating of 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Power by Naomi Alderman

As soon as I read the premise for this novel, I knew I had to give it a go. This story was literally marketed as “perfect for a fan of Margaret Atwood” … and I am definitely a fan of Atwood’s work. Another thing I found out about this author and this book that made me interested in reading it is that Margaret Atwood was this author’s mentor and had really loved this novel. What better endorsement could I ask for? So I got myself a copy… and now, here is my review:

The world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But on a day like any other, something has happened, something that will cause the lives of these individuals to converge. Teenage girls have developed an immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

The concept for this novel is absolutely brilliant. I love the idea of girls and women having an incredible ability, lying dormant in their bodies until something causes it to just come alive. And this novel is really a testament for how it only takes one to cause a revolution. The story is told from alternating perspectives where each of the characters mentioned here (and maybe some others) get a chance to tell the story from their point of view. There is only one male voice that is a main character: the rich Nigerian boy, Tunde. All of the other characters are female and they all have their own unique personalities that really comes through when they get their moment in the spotlight. I’m going to tell you right now: the strange power that females in this novel have is the ability to produce and channel electricity inside of their bodies. With this power, they can kill or hurt or shock anyone. Now, women are more powerful than men and they are using it to their advantage. The whole story is about reimagining the world: what would it be like if women were now in control instead of men? How would that takeover happen and how successful would it be? And the author really takes the time to answer this question through a multitude of issues from terrorism to politics to religion. I really appreciated the time and effort that went into cementing this concept. But this wasn’t really a story. It was more of a documentary or a research paper if anything else. In fact, this novel was shaped as a book proposal being submitted by someone named Nell to Naomi Alderman for review, which I thought was interesting … but also just made it less of a story and more research-like. The novel doesn’t allow for a great deal of emotional connection with the characters, and the story dragged on after the initial high-intensity chapters. There were a lot of cliché moments in the novel that took away from the novelty of it all. I guess I just wanted more story at times, and less of an explanation of the political situation. Overall, this was a fascinating concept and I liked a lot of the things the author had to say; I just wish the delivery of it all had been more story-like and less like a documentary. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars but really, the points are mostly just for the concept and the first half of the novel.

Happy reading ~

Tarry This Night by Kristyn Dunnion

I’m always fascinated by cults and I always grab any book that deals with this subject matter so that it might help me understand the mentality behind cults better. What could possess people to give everything up and believe in one person who claims they know the future? What could cause people to wholeheartedly give in to a completely different way of life? These are just a few of the questions that I try to answer through fiction and non-fiction on this fascinating topic. Anyways, I stumbled upon this book and thought it would be a great read for me. Here is my review:

As a civil war brews in America, there lies a cult ensconced in an underground bunker, waiting for the conflict to end. Father Ernst is the leader of this cult, and his “Family” depends on him to guide them through this troubling time and into the period of Ascension promised to them. But when “The Family” runs out of food, one among them must go out and forage for supplies, leaving behind the rest to the madness of Father Ernst. Ruth is a young girl but she is soon to come of age. Terrified of serving as Ernst’s next wife, she must choose between obeying her faith and fighting for survival.

I thought this was a very interesting cult fiction with dystopian elements thrown into it. The summary is quite apt: there is a cult with its leader living in an underground bunker waiting out the civil unrest happening above ground, but tensions are high and they are on the brink of starvation. It’s the perfect setting for desperation to settle in and for something climactic to happen. I really liked that the story was told from multiple perspectives; it allowed us to understand the main characters better, while also showing us the situation they were in and how being a part of this cult had changed them. There are characters across all ages, each with their own unique experience and viewpoints. This is a gritty story that explores many different themes: the divide between blind faith and the ability to make one’s own choice, the loss of innocence, the desperation to survive, and the meaning of happiness and freedom. I really enjoyed the story but I just wish it had been longer! A longer story would have given more tension, and would have made me feel more satisfied about the ending. Overall, a really good story that I wish had been longer so that I could have enjoyed it more! 3/5 star rating from me!

Happy reading ~

A Matter of Oaths by Helen S. Wright

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this would be an interesting read for me since I’ve never read a space opera. I’m always trying to give new genres a chance, and have enjoyed the opportunities I have received thus far. I thought I would try my luck here. Apparently, this novel was originally published in 1990, which was surprising to me. The version I read was newer, from 2017. Apart from the cover art, I don’t think anything has changed in terms of the story. But anyways… here is my review:

Commander Rallya of patrolship Bhattya thought she had a talent for making enemies–until she met Rafe. For no crime on his record, the young officer had been identity wiped, and his innumerable, now-forgotten enemies were still tracking him across the galaxy.

I don’t think space operas are my thing, as I really didn’t enjoy this novel. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the novel itself; it’s just another instance where the book and I didn’t match. I thought the characters were interesting and very unique: there’s a gay person of colour and an older woman who are the main characters of the story. I loved Commander Ralya’s sharp tongue and wit! However, I didn’t really like the writing style and I wish there had been more world-building so that I could better understand the context of the story. Since I wasn’t able to connect with the story, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I could have. I’m going to give this novel a 2/5 stars as a rating, but would strongly urge others to check out more reviews before deciding whether they should read this book or not.

Happy reading ~

The Final Book: Gods by SW Hammond

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book has been long overdue on my TBR list; I mean, it was published in June and I just got to it now. However, I was really excited to read this novel because of its connections to mythology. I love mythology and I’m always interested to see how authors will take stories and characters that we already know and incorporate them into a brand-new story. Here is my review:

In the beginning there was love. The Goddess of Life in an elated romance with a beloved mortal. Her sister killed him. Their combined actions ripping a hole in destiny and plagued mankind with an age of unprecedented corruption, vicious holy wars, and religious absolution.

Though long forgotten by the mortals they serve, Zeus and his Pantheon continue to foster and protect mankind which is tearing itself apart—but even God isn’t infallible. After failed diplomacy, the King of the Gods is left with no choice but to take the persona of a modern man—the famed genetic scientist Dr. Hork. In an effort to preserve the future by reshaping the past, Dr. Hork uses Project Genesis—the transfer of consciousness—to send subjects back in time. However, not without devastating failures. Subjects of the experiment wreak havoc upon humanity until a familiar character is reborn to correct the course.

Reincarnated and ready to fulfill his true destiny, Joshua Bach is the catalyst the Gods have been waiting for—and Dr. Hork’s final beacon of salvation. Ferociously idealistic, the free-spirited young man struggles to come-of-age in a time and society ruled by money and corruption. Under the wing of the Gods, Josh rediscovers his purpose, along with a love that can only be considered timeless.

I’m not going to give a rating for this book because I don’t think it would be fair (or accurate). This was a case where the book just did not work for me and I wasn’t able to finish the novel. The story started off interestingly enough but I couldn’t get into it and I felt like there was a lot going on for me. I think that the author actually did a really good job of taking the Greek mythological character and maintaining their personalities, even including little details. I think the reason this novel didn’t work for me was because there was just a lot going on. From cloning to theology, this book talks about everything. For me, that was a bit too much to handle. However, I want to mention here that this novel has gotten great reviews on Goodreads, reviews that will probably be more accurate. If you like Greek mythology and are looking for something deep and out of the norm, then this is the novel for you!

Happy reading `

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I’ll be the first to admit that this book is completely out of my comfort zone. I have never read a book about virtual reality. In fact, I’ve never even played a video game. It’s not like I have avoided these things on purpose. Growing up, my parents bought me a lot of books and dolls. But video games were thought to be for boys only. Plus, they were too expensive for an immigrant family to afford at that time. It didn’t help that I didn’t have many friends so I was always out of the loop on what was “in”. When I heard about this book, I thought it was interesting but also very weird. I mean, who would want to write a book about a video game? Clearly, this author. And clearly, this book has done so well that it is being made into a movie. So, in order to finally catch up with the times, I decided to give this novel a shot. Here is my review:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. There’s not a lot of money and not a lot of food. Most of the population is homeless. The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself propelled into popularity. But with his fame comes a great danger: there are some players out there who will stop at nothing to win the ultimate prize – even if it means killing Wade. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

When I say this book was un-put-down-able, I mean it. I sat in my bed, thinking that I would read a few chapters and see how I felt about it. Before I knew it, I had finished the whole book and not taken a single break for anything. It was that entertaining! Even though I wasn’t born in the ’80s and have no experience with video games, I found it really easy to follow along. The author does a great job of explaining everything so you can really enjoy the story and understand all of the little references being made. Of course, if you are familiar with all of the cultural references from the ’80s that are made in this book, then you are probably going to enjoy this more! This is a pretty light-hearted story for all intents and purposes: Wade is a loner who finds an escape through the Oasis and this challenge that was presented by the eccentric creator of the Oasis. The adventures and obstacles were really fun to read about and you really see Wade growing up and developing as a character. I loved all of the other characters, as they each had their own unique part. While some people may have wanted a bit more realism and substance to this novel, I liked it because it didn’t have that. It was just such a good fun read! It had me excited, it had me laughing, it had me amped …. it made me feel like I was a part of this world that the author had created. I definitely had a great experience with this novel, and I’m giving it a 5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

I’ve never read anything by this author, but he is definitely well known for his other works. After hearing so many positive things about Clines’ other books, I decided to give this ARC a go. Here is my review:

Eli lives in Sanders, a town where nothing ever changes, a town that seems to be stuck in the past. So why doesn’t Eli want to leave? Whether he wants to admit it or not, Eli has been waiting – waiting for a mysterious traveler he met years ago. It isn’t often that you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires. So when the mysterious traveler finally reappears, Eli is determined to get some answers. But his hunt soon yields far more than he bargained for, plunging him headlong into a dizzying world full of competing factions and figures straight out of legend. To make sense of the mystery at its heart, he must embark on a breakneck chase across the country and through two centuries of history­—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

The premise of this novel had me really intrigued and excited to read this novel. However, my actual experience with this book was … underwhelming. The story revolves around Harry, the mysterious stranger that Eli meets, as well as a host of other characters who are all looking for a very important thing: the American dream. And to do this, they are going through different time points in American history to find it. Now, I love a good time travel story, especially since the concept of time travel is not the easiest to write about. I quite enjoyed the jumps in time and how it forced the reader to pay attention to all of the little details in the book. However, I wasn’t so impressed with the characters. They were all just so bland and they really didn’t hold any interest. With such a whimsical story idea, I expect really fantastic characters that leave an impression on the reader. Even the villains weren’t as villainous as I was hoping. The entire time I was reading this novel, it felt like everything stopped just shy of being amazing. The pace was just short of gripping and edgy, the thrills and dangers were just short of being scary, the characters were just short of being charismatic, and the ending was just short of being satisfactory. While the premise and concept was interesting, I don’t think the execution was the best. This definitely wasn’t a memorable story, but it could have been. For that reason, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, NetGalley, and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Artemis by Andy Weir

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, did so well that it was adapted to a movie. However, I neither read the book nor watched the movie. Why? Well, its not really my type of book. It’s kind of similar to my aversion to books on animals; it’s just not my scene. But this latest book had been getting a lot of notice, and its premise seemed different enough from The Martian that I felt it might be something I would like. Here is my review:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. But she has her reasons. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is no cakewalk unless you’re working with tourists or an eccentric billionaire. By smuggling in harmless bits of contraband, Jazz is just trying to make ends meet. However, everything changes when Jazz is given the opportunity to make enough money to last her a life time. But pulling off this impossible crime is just the beginning of her problems, as she finds herself caught in the middle of a conspiracy to control Artemis itself.

The entire time I read this novel, it just had this very childish vibe to it. The crime and the consequences of it were serious, however it was delivered in such a childish, peppy manner that I couldn’t take it seriously. It was this weird mashup of a 1930s detective story with its mysterious characters and twists and turns, and some funny teen novel. And I didn’t really like it. I couldn’t get a handle on the mood or tone of this novel at all, and it just made everything seem like a big joke. Jazz’s character was also an issue for me. I have no problem with female characters who don’t act in a feminine way. However, it really felt as if the author was struggling to create Jazz. Every now and then, the author makes some really cringy assertion to make it clear that Jazz is a female. I also didn’t like the fact that Jazz talks to the reader sometimes in an attempt to add humor to the situation; it was just very awkward. None of the jokes were funny and the joviality of it all was just cringe-worthy. I didn’t actually mind the fact that the author included scientific information; I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know, and it wasn’t delivered in a heavy pedantic way. But the whole plot was just not intense enough for me to feel pulled into it and I really couldn’t care about anything in this novel. So far, I’m not really getting a great impression of this author’s work … but maybe, just maybe, when I have nothing left to read…. I’ll give The Martian a try. For now, this novel gets a 2/5 from me.

Happy reading ~